The Subway, Zion National Park in Ideal Conditions, April 2012


Shai and a friend from Israel were visiting for two weeks of canyon country goodness. The Subway seemed like a necessity, so I snuck away for a Tuesday descent. The weather had been hot, very hot, so we were a bit concerned about snowmelt overwhelming this small canyon – doesn’t take much! When we got in to the floor of the canyon, we were pleasantly surprised to find 2 cfs of flow – perfect!

The old and new routes for The Subway, Zion National Park

Old routes blocked off

Over the dry winter, Zion’s Backcountry staff had been working on the Subway trail/route, re-aligning the route to minimize travel across vegetated areas, and eliminating the braid of trails on the exit hike that used to make it such a pain. They did an amazing job, and I think we should support the effort by taking extra care to follow the “new” route. I took a bunch of pictures to illustrate this point, shown below.

After a pleasant hike in, we suited up above the last pool in Russell Gulch, and headed on in. The water was chilly, but the number of actual swims pretty small. At the first obstacle, the big boulder pile, I was surprised to find a two-bolt anchor; we used that to rap the face of the boulder.

The "bowling ball" chock, The Subway, Zion National Park

The Bowling Ball, with a chunk of log on it - we went around

The Bowling Ball was blocked by a log, and I did not like the look of the climb to get up and over. The rope bag floating around in the eddy did not add to my positivity. We backtracked a bit (would be hard if there was much greater current) and climbed up the side to a ledge that runs across above, rapping back in off a small tree.

Keyhole Falls was anticlimatic. I hear it is “extra fun” when there is enough flow to make stepping out on that lava boulder treacherous – but not this day.

Exceptional color, light, and mood made for quintessential presentation of The Subway. Zion will be represented well in Isreal by the many, MANY pictures taken. Always difficult to do reality justice there.

Then, of course, the long hike out. Bunches of flowers… including several species I had not seen before. Finally back to the car to find a flat tire, thus delaying escape to the joys of a hot shower and soft bed – but not too long.

A fine day in an amazing canyon!

For more information on this route, see The Subway, Zion National Park.


About Tom Jones

Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Apr 24th, 2012 Canyoneering, The Subway, Tom Jones, Trip Report, Wildflowers, Zion  ,  ,  ,


  1. avatar

    Hi Tom,
    I’m so glad I came across your blog! Loved your pictures and the info on the new trail and the log blocking the boulder route will be very helpful. We put in for the lottery to go through Subway Memorial Day weekend … I just wanted to ask you how cold you think the water is? I’m wondering if I should invest in a wetsuit jacket.

    • avatar
      Tom Jones (Author)

      Memorial Day weekend, seems like the air temp is going to be in the 90’s, so it really should be no problem without a wetsuit. But, then again, I like to wear a wetsuit because I get cold easily, and it is fun to spend a bunch of time in the coldest places, which is easier to do if not shivering!


    • avatar
      Tom Jones (Author)

      Word on the street is that it is not hard to get past the log, so now I would go ahead and go down there.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to the Rave and hear about new posts by email.

    Join 22 other subscribers

 Related Posts